Hi Wilbur, I have always wanted to try a Japanese plane and chisels. I currently use Stanley planes. I am hoping some advise from you would help a newbie. Would you recommend a smoother or scraper plane to start with. Also what would you advise for chisels. I'm hoping not to break the bank to get my feet wet with a couple of Japanese tools. I appreciate any help. Sicerely, Bill F.
Thanks for reading. I really appreciate it.
As far as the plane goes, if you’re feeling confident, start with a 70mm smoother. If you’re feeling less gutsy, try a 60 or 65mm plane. The narrower plane blade is a little easier to set up. A scraper plane is good for conditioning the sole of the smoother, but there are other ways to do that.
For Japanese chisels, there are a ton of good options. I have the Fujihiro brand chisels made by Imai, available at Hida Tool. I like those chisels a lot.
I think that the best way of figuring out which brand/dealer/blacksmith to go with takes a bit of a different mindset than what woodworkers are used to, mainly because no one is going to do a Fine Woodworking-style Japanese chisel shootout and award Best Overall and Best Value titles. We’re used to comparing and contrasting features and performance, and that information is not really going to be forthcoming in a way that’s meaningful.
I think that we should keep in mind that Japanese tool sellers are really not out to screw woodworkers over. All of them know that if they do a good job selling one chisel, then that woodworker is likely to buy ten more from them.
So talk to all of the dealers, and ask them for advice on a Japanese chisel. You’ll get varying answers, but one of them is going to resonate with you more than the others. Buy tools from that dealer. Again, this takes a different mindset, and requires a bit of a leap of faith. But the rewards will be great.
(Disclaimer: I don’t get any kickback for recommending tools. The Christopher Schwarz ethics policy is in effect.)